Lifestyle diseases are now complicating pregnancies, putting mothers and newborns at higher risk of complications
11/29/2017 // Rita Winters // Views

Contrary to popular belief, the responsibilities of motherhood begin before, not after, conception. A woman must be in good health prior to conceiving in order to assure her and the baby's health. Preexisting conditions, sedentary lifestyles, and unhealthy food negatively affect babies prenatally. A Michigan Medicine study reports that pregnant women, particularly poor women and rural folk, are more likely to have chronic conditions that lead to high mortality rates for both the woman and the child.

Historically, most female deaths were caused by complications during or after childbirth, including severe hemorrhage and infections. Sadly, statistics show that the mortality rate spiked, not because of antiquated delivery methods, but because of the mother's preexisting conditions. A study published in The Green Journal, the official publication of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), reports that these chronic conditions increase the risk of unfavorable outcomes for the mothers and their children.

The United States is one of the most developed countries in the world, but the findings of the study show that maternal mortality rates are rising fast here. Most of the fatalities are caused by complications from asthma, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and substance abuse disorders. This is especially particular to rural communities, or individuals in the lower socioeconomic classes, that do not receive enough health care and lack information on living healthy lifestyles.

In numbers

Statistics from 2005 to 2006 show that 67 out of 1,000 women in the U.S. who were hospitalized for childbirth had chronic conditions. The rates rose up to 92 out of 1,000 in studies from 2013 to 2014. Mothers with multiple preexisting conditions rose up from five percent to eight during the same period.


The results of substance abuse cases are also rising at an alarming rate. Findings show that 13 out of 1,000 women and their babies had complications from substance abuse in 2005 to 2006. Results rose to 20 out of 1,000 in 2013 to 2014. Rural community statistics show a higher rate: 11 to 25 out of 1,000 from 2005 to 2014. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about five percent of pregnant women use illegal drugs. Other findings show that one in five women smoked prior to pregnancy, and one in 10 mothers smoked during their last trimester.

In the U.S. in 2005, 23 mothers out of 100,000 died from pregnancy-related issues. This rose to 25 out of 1,000 in 2015. The United Kingdom reports nine deaths per 100,000 births, while Canada reports less than seven deaths.

CDC studies show that most complications in pregnancy are caused by being overweight or obese. Rates of pregnant women who smoke is at an alarming high, and usually leads to preterm birth and sudden infant death syndrome. Annually, about 700 women die of pregnancy-related issues and more than 50,000 mothers experience severe pregnancy complications.

Health is wealth

Being a mother is all about being responsible for your own health, and your family's as well. Involving yourself in a healthy lifestyle will not only make you healthy, but happy as well. Mental health is a big deal during pregnancy, since the excess hormones produced by the mother's body trigger mood swings that may negatively affect the baby's development. Prior to conceiving, mothers must assure their own health first, since the baby that will be growing inside will primarily absorb whatever is currently in the mother's body.

Aside from food, blood will also be shared, so detoxification is necessary. Eating healthy, organic food helps meet the mother's and the baby's nutritional needs. It is crucial for the mother to have a sufficient intake of vitamins and minerals to aid the baby's development. Last but not the least, exercise regularly. Sitting less and having an active daily routine will train the heart to pump more blood for the both of you.

Sources include:

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